By JIM KUHNHENN and KEN THOMAS, Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — They are the missing pages of a convention story line, ideas and initiatives once prominently featured in President Barack Obama's agenda.
Climate change. Economic stimulus. The massive bank bailout known as TARP. The stimulus and the bailout remain politically poisonous while regulatory remedies for climate change have receded as a priority in a poor economy.
All three were central elements of either Obama's last campaign or his first years in office. But at the Democratic National Convention, they barely rate a mention, even as they complement or undergird some of the president's top policy goals: shoring up the economy, reversing a financial crisis and achieving energy independence.
Those are the most obvious pieces wiped away from the Democrats' image-making this week.
Some initial blank spots, however, were ultimately filled.
Convention delegates had to hurriedly insert references to God and Jerusalem in the party platform after their omission threatened to become politically explosive. Nudged by Obama, party officials pushed through a reference to workers and their "God-given potential" and restored language from the 2008 platform asserting that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
Other issues weren't given a second thought.
For a party that once declared a "war on poverty," the poor received little mention. It took former President Bill Clinton to address the plight of the needy, not with a renewed call to help them but to decry Republican measures he said would hurt the poor and their children. There also was virtual silence on gun control, an issue that attracted attention after recent mass shootings but that has bedeviled Democrats since a 1994 crime bill many say cost them congressional seats. Delegates were reminded of the cost of gun violence, however, when Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman who was shot in an attack in her Arizona district in early 2011, made a moving appearance on stage to deliver the Pledge of Allegiance.
There were faces absent from the picture as well. Conservative Democrats haven't been prominent at the convention. Former vice president and presidential contender Al Gore has not been seen. Disgraced vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who represented North Carolina in the Senate, has stayed away.
And then there's the attention to climate change, which has, well, changed.
To be sure, as the president made his case for re-election Thursday night he declared forcefully that "climate change is not a hoax.
"More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke," he said. "They're a threat to our children's future."
But few others in the three days of speeches devoted attention to it and the Democratic platform tempers its climate change language compared to the 2008 party document.
Four years ago, Democrats called climate change "the epochal, man-made threat to the planet." The current platform takes it down a notch, referring to climate change as one "of the biggest threats of this generation - an economic, environmental and national security catastrophe in the making."
Back then, the party also called for a cap-and-trade system that would blend limits on pollutants with the ability for utilities and manufacturers to trade pollution allowances. The current platform approved Tuesday doesn't mention cap-and-trade and it has been absent from the discussion.
In written answers to questions posed by the scientific website Sciencedebate.org and posted this week, Obama sidestepped cap-and-trade while emphasizing his administration's effort to limit car pollution and advance clean energy initiatives.
Asked about the absence of such a regulatory proposal, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said: "The country has evolved a little bit, particularly given the recession." He cited Obama's increase in mileage standards for automobiles as a key step toward addressing climate change.
When it came to the economy, a central question the convention sought to address was posed by Republicans: Are Americans better off than they were four years ago? After initially stumbling, the Democratic consensus was a resounding yes, that Obama had taken steps to halt the recession and put the economy on a slow but rising path.